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2 — gaudeamus muziekweek 2011 — english

here we are!


this is the very first time that the city of Utrecht is hosting the annual Gaudeamus Muziekweek.

Introduction Henk Heuvelmans


Meet Tomorrow’s Composers


Museum Speelklok: festival hub


Utrecht and Music Vera Carasso, Museum Speelklok


New Music – New Forms photo: Herre Vermeer

This is the very first time that the city of Utrecht is hosting the annual Gaudeamus Muziekweek. Utrecht provides us with a fantastic and challenging new environment in perfect keeping with what our festival offers, namely a platform for the newest music by creative, young people in an inspiring setting.

column Aad van Nieuwkerk


From MIDI to Four-Dimensional Sound


Muziekweek 2.0 column Martijn Buser


Gaudeamus Muziekweek as a Platform for the Development of International Talent Utrecht and Music Lucia Claus, Utrecht Stadsschouwburg

with Michel van der Aa and Rozalie Hirs


The Night of the Unexpected


Between Image and Sound the soundinstallations of the Muziekweek

We cordially welcome you all to this bubble bath of interesting sounds, where you will become a partner in a new music history! Henk Heuvelmans director

composers interview

Nanette Ris, Muziekcentrum Vredenburg

artists interview


Program overview and locations

14 + 15

Colophon, tickets


Today’s music is an inter­ national, exceedingly colorful and lively world of composers, ensembles, bands, vocalists, musi­ cians, electronics, video and sound artists active in every corner of the world.

‘Thus my piece was selected for Gaudeamus

‘Do not rely on

‘Sometimes its good to

‘Do not rely on planned

‘I prefer to make my

a plan, and quite

Music Week :)’

unplanned music;

talk to people you are

music, performers will

plans only on Friday

enough time.’

Anna Korsun

it comes out as though

trying to avoid, then you

cross your street anyway

night – any other would

it were planned, but

might know why you

and plan it their own

hamper me in some way.

planned by someone

wanted to avoid them in

way... The result will be

Why are people so afraid

‘...and if there’s no

‘And not enough money.’

you cross the street

the first place.’

unplanned and you can’t

of surprises?’

time for a plan, it’s still

Trevor Grahl

to avoid.’

Yannis Kyriakides

avoid it :)’

Trevor Grahl

Yannis Kyriakides

Robert Ashley

Anna Korsun


Proportions and Fantasy

two things are needed;

worth a try...’


Utrecht and Music

‘To achieve great things,

Leonard Bernstein


Biking for Inspiration

Quotes on Quotes

Besides the familiar festival features such as the popular Gaudeamus Prize, the composers’ meeting, The Night of the Unexpected, and top Dutch ensembles such as Klang, VocaalLab, the Nieuw Ensemble, Ereprijs, or Insomnio, we now also have quite a number of sound installations spread out over the city, new sound systems, and first-class inter­ national musicians such as the Seattle Chamber Players and Tomoko Mukaiyama. A music theater walk will depart from our festival hub at the Museum Speelklok and a daily radio program by our media partner, the VPRO, will be broadcast. And naturally we’ll be present at the finest concert locations in Utrecht: Vredenburg Leeuwenbergh, Tivoli Oudegracht, the Nicolaikerk, the Geertekerk, and the Fentener van Vlissingenzaal. We are proud that we may contribute to the flourishing of contemporary music in this beautiful city.


Beyond the notes

Utrecht has received us warmly, and with all the good things this city has to offer, this year’s festival edition will be totally different from previous years. Today’s music is an inter­ national, exceedingly colorful and lively world of composers, ensembles, bands, vocalists, musicians, electronics, video and sound artists active in every corner of the world. From this wide array, the Gaudeamus Muziekweek presents the most talented, original, and self-willed young makers to the city of Utrecht to stimulate your senses with their most recent work. We will gladly lead you through this exciting aural landscape of today’s contemporary music.

Henk Heuvelmans


english — gaudeamus muziekweek 2011 — 3

Meet Tomorrow’s Composers

Edward Burtynsky

This festival is about tomorrow’s music made by tomorrow’s composers, about new, contem­ porary, up-to-the-minute music. The heart of the program consists of works by the thirteen composers nominated for the Gaudeamus Prize.

The jury of the Gaudeamus Prize nominated

works on new pieces with young composers.

Luc Brewaeys may be heard, in addition to one

thirteen works from four hundred compositions

This year’s four winners – Ryan Latimer, Peter

of the pieces nominated for the Gaudeamus

submitted from all over the world. The pieces

McNamarra, Thierry Tidrow and Benjamin

Prize, ‘Landscapes’ by Anna Korsun, and Raphaël

demonstrate the diversity of today’s composing:

Scheuer – will be presented in a special program

Cendo, currently a leading composer in Europe.

from the extremely concentrated sensitivity of

at the Fentener van Vlissingenzaal in the

‘Départ dans...’ by Yoshiaki Onishi to the muscled

Utrecht Conservatory.

rock sounds in ‘Velvet Hammer’ by Sean Friar,

rienced during this Muziekweek. Barbara

photo: Herre Vermeer

or the fragile, expressive vocal qualities of Anna

During the Muziekweek you of course will hear

Lüneburg comprised a program with music for

Korsun’s ‘Landscapes’. Thirteen pieces, praised

the very best Dutch musicians specialized in

violin and live electronics; Elisabeth Smalt and

by jury chairperson Rozalie Hirs as ‘really very

contemporary music. In addition to the above-

Vincent Hepp will play a shortlisted piece for two


mentioned ensembles, you can listen to the

violas by Andrew McIntosh; the brand new initia-

Nieuw Ensemble, the DoelenKwartet and

tive under the name European Contemporary

In addition to the nominated compositions,

VocaalLAB in programs built around the nomi-

Orchestra may be heard in various small groups

we will also meet a few former winners of the

nated pieces. In the Museum Speelklok, vocalist

in various locations (in co-production with the

Gaudeamus Prize. Yannis Kyriakides and Ted

Stephanie Pan and pianist Sarah Nicolls will per-

Open Monumentendag) and will perform works

Hearne won the competition in 2000 and 2009

form commissioned works, works at the cutting

by Ezequiel Menalled and Christiaan Richter and

respectively and now present new works, per-

edge of electronic and acoustic music. Here you

more; and a special sound walk by Robert van

formed by Tomoko Mukaiyama with the Seattle

will hear pieces by Wouter Snoei, Chad Langford,

Heumen and Simone de Jong combines music

Chamber Players, and Ensemble Klang. We will

Gert-Jan Prins, Hugo Morales, Daniel Schorno,

and text in an individual ‘road trip’. The Night of

also hear the results of two honorable mentions

Danny de Graan and Robert van Heumen.

the Unexpected is exactly what the title signi-

from last year’s competition: Insomnio will play


And that’s not all that can be musically expe-

fies: musicians from all corners of the spectrum

a new piece by Artur Akshelyan and Dirk Luijmes

Hexnut connects very diverse styles – jazz,

bring together a staggering quantity of musical

ventures into a new piece by Giuliano Bracci.

metal, classic, and improvisation – in its reper-

styles, and string these into a non-stop program

tory, and will bring a multi-colored program

that lasts an entire evening in the Tivoli pop

inspired by Edward Burtynsky’s fascinating

stage. The musical travel story ‘Götterfunken’ by

photos. Hexnut asked Jan Bas Bollen, Anthony

Wilbert Bulsink and Jeroen Kimman, performed

Fiumara, Mayke Nas, Seung-Ah Oh, David

by Rosa Ensemble of Utrecht, rounds off the

Dramm and Ned McGowan to write a composi-


The competition houses a multitude of styles, genres, and idioms that likewise translate to the rest of the program during the Gaudeamus Muziekweek. A week that crackles right from the start with a performance by the Rosa Ensemble at Neude Square, the heart of the city and the main loca-

tion inspired by Burtynsky’s photography. But even that is not all. Elsewhere in this maga-

The Muziekweek demonstrates that many composers are looking for connections with other art disciplines.

zine you can find information about the sound installations set up in the Museum Speelklok and throughout the city. There’s also special attention for the different ways in which music and electronics can interact.

tion of the Utrecht Uitfeest that day, the kick-off of the cultural season. For many years orkest

VocaalLab presents a program around vocality,

de ereprijs has organized its own international

video, and light, in which new works by Roderik

An overview of the whole program can be found

Young Composers Meeting, where the ensemble

de Man and the Belgians Daan Janssens and

on page 14 and 15.

4 — gaudeamus muziekweek 2011 — english

Museum Speelklok: Festival Hub

For the first time the Gaudeamus Muziekweek is being held in Utrecht. How music-minded is Utrecht? We asked three directors of Utrecht art institu­ tions about the musical experience that impressed them the most: Vera Carasso of the Museum Speelklok, Nanette Ris of Muziekcentrum Vredenburg and Lucia Claus of the Utrecht Stadsschouwburg.

photo: Herre Vermeer photo: Albertine Dijkema

For the first time Gaudeamus Muziekweek is being held in Utrecht, with the celebrated Museum Speelklok serving as the festival center. During the entire week this museum will be the hub of the festival, where in addi­ tion to information on the festival activities, concerts will be staged and beautiful sound installations may be admired. Moreover, the museum forms the beginning and the end of the sound walk, ‘Like Harry’.

Utrecht and Music

Naturally, the Muziekweek will also end at the Museum Speelklok, with the Gaudeamus Prize awards ceremony on Sunday, September 11th.

Vera Carasso Museum Speelklok

‘I find it difficult to name a single experience. Rob van Rijswijk / Jeroen Strijbos, Dadoc

Music is very dependent on the setting and the moment. At home on the couch with a beautiful CD on and a glass of wine is so differ­

Museum Speelklok offers a natural environment

various sounds on and off. Also on offer are the

Sound installation route

ent from actually going to a concert. In May,

for the Gaudeamus Muziekweek. The museum’s

musical boxes that Karlheinz Stockhausen, one

Wed 7, Sat 10 en Sun 11 September,

we presented two concerts at the Museum

brilliant collection demonstrates mankind’s

of electronic music’s most significant pioneers,

from 12.00 hours

Speelklok on our brand new stage, with ‘Daring

fascination for ‘magic’ machines capable of pro-

constructed for his the Zodiac series.

Various locations

Crossovers’ as theme, whereby musicians were

‘Like Harry’ offers quite a different view on how

Like Harry

Kees de Ruijter, our arranger at the Museum

music and sound can be situated in a special

Wed 7, Sat 10 en Sun 11 September,

Speelklok, can rework all sorts of music for the

context, in this case, in the public space of

from 11:00 hours, Museum Speelklok

instruments in the collection. Jazz horn player

Utrecht. This music theater walk by Robert van

departure between 11:00 and 12:00,

Morris Kliphuis chose something for one of

Heumen and Simone de Jong is a philosophical

13:30 and 14:30, 16:00 and 17:00 hours (except Sunday)

our most beautiful barrel organs, for which

ducing music without human interference.

Composers have always been interested in exploiting the specific technical qualities of this set of instruments and its more recent successors.

inspired by instruments in our collection. Jan

music trip, whereby the thoughts of someone

Jan Kees made glittering arrangements. The

else, namely Harry, nestle in your head. ‘Like

Disklavier Plus

Not many organ grinders will have heard of the

Harry’ is an individual walk through the center of

Thu 8 September, 12:30 and 17:00 hours

Ellen ten Damme, Lucky Fonz III, Wouter Hamel

American Conlon Nancarrow, but he was the

Utrecht, beginning and ending at the Museum

Museum Speelklok

and Christiaan Kuyvenhoven, thought it was

first composer to seriously use automatic music

Speelklok. Of course, information about the

instruments and to write pieces that could only

Muziekweek is available at the festival desk in

Rosa Ensemble – Götterfunken

the musicians themselves become inspired and

be performed by these machines. The pianola, of

the Museum Speelklok, and there are plenty

Sun 11 September, 17:00 hours

that the audience can feel it. At our ‘Daring

which a few beautiful examples are housed in the

of opportunities for the general public to meet

Museum Speelklok

Crossovers’, old instruments were used in a new

museum, was the principal instrument for which

composers and musicians at the festival café.

Nancarrow composed. Like a street organ, the pianola is a piano with a mechanism that ‘reads’ a book with punched holes, which in turn operates the keyboard. The Disklavier – the modern, digital second cousin of the pianola – will also be presented at the festival, at the two ‘Disklavier

multimedia performance ‘Götterfunken’ by the Rosa Ensemble from Utrecht, composed by Wilbert Bulsink and Jeroen Kimman, and inspired by a cycling trip, biking thousands of kilometers along the borders of Eastern Europe. Naturally,

During the Muziekweek a number of sound

the Muziekweek is only really rounded off when

installations by leading Dutch artists may

the winner of the Gaudeamus Prize is announced

be seen and heard at the Museum Speelklok.

at the end of this concert in the Museum

Among the museum’s street organs and musi-

Speelklok. This first presentation of the Muziek-

cal boxes are two interactive installations by

week in Utrecht gains extra luster by the pres-

composer Dyane Donck and artist Jake de Vos.

ence of the mayor of Utrecht, Aleid Wolfsen,

Dyane Donck will also present ‘Yesterday’ and a

who will personally award the prize.

poser and performer Evelien van den Broek. We can also experience the successful Brabant duo Rob van Rijswijk and Jeroen Strijbos with their mysterious ‘Dadoc’, where listeners can create their own ideal aural environment by turning

context, resulting in a very special experience. go to that concert anywhere else. That unique­ ness also made it very special, of course. And at the same time one thinks, why can’t we do this again? So that more people could hear it! Luckily, there are many more exciting ‘Daring Crossovers’ scheduled at the Museum Speelklok

The Muziekweek will close in style with the

new work, both made in cooperation with com-

fantastic. The best thing at a concert is when

That evening was really unique. You couldn’t

Via a live stream on Internet, the VPRO radio station will present a daily broadcast on the festival, which makes the Muziekweek accessible to a large public.

Plus’ concerts on Thursday, September 8th.

In past decades, composers with a fascination for music machines have linked music and the visual arts.

musicians who played that evening, including

in the near future.’

english — gaudeamus muziekweek 2011 — 5

photo: Pieter Kers

Aad van Nieuwkerk

photo: Pieter Kers

New Music – New Forms

Aad van Nieuwkerk

‘Perhaps many of the perplexing problems of the new music could be put into a new light if we were to reintroduce the ancient idea of music being a reflection of nature.’ George Crumb

‘Reintroducing an idea will take us one step away from nature, which might not be such a bad thing.’ Yannis Kyriakides

‘Nature has her own music and music has her own nature.’ Anna Korsun

‘And indeed, as Wilde reminds us, if we view nature as being a reflection of art!’ Trevor Grahl

New ways of presenting new music: it seems like everyone’s talking about this. Initiatives shoot up like mushrooms: orchestras are changing tack, concert halls are reconsidering their age-old principles, and festivals are presenting symphonic repertory together with trendy DJs and grunge bands as a matter of course. The question is ‘Why?’.

Audiences are getting older and you’re sup-

tory methods. I’ve noticed a few examples lately,

And varying forms of classical music at all sorts

posed to attract younger audiences (who, for

which I don’t mention below as advice or results,

of festivals – pop, family, cultural, or just cozy –

that matter, will also get older as time goes on).

just as opinions.

is almost a must, with or without a DJ.

Different. Spectacle! Artists want it, too. They

As to locations, concert halls are barely a match

And lastly, on the make-up of a performance.

want a video with their concert, or a light show

for old factory halls, shopping malls, churches,

When will the relationships between the

during an aria, or female dancers to liven up a

various outdoor sites, small art galleries,

different ‘ingredients’ of a ‘performance’ become

piano sonata. An artist is always looking for new

museums, you name it. At Christmas I saw a

flexible, variable, and irrelevant? When does the

expressive possibilities.

talented cellist in the Albert Hein grocery market

question if something is a ‘concert with video’

at Schiphol Airport: Bach with broccoli. A few

or a ‘slide show with music’ become not more

months ago, music by Peter Adriaansz was

than a question about the technical prerequi-

excellently performed at the old sawmill in the

sites, instead of a step towards the correct way

Pastoe Factory in Utrecht.

of venue-related pigeon-holing? Arnoud

And younger audiences simply want Something

That very well may be, but I think it’s actually all about one thing: you don’t get anywhere with only sound, and maybe we never got anywhere with only sound, because in reality we humans don’t only listen. It’s impossible not to simultaneously look, feel, smell, be conscious of your surroundings, of the social context, and of the demands these make.

Noordegraaf (A.M. in the Holland Festival) Linear materialistic warehouse media increas-

makes splendid films, uh... music pieces... uh...

ingly share their position with streaming offered

videos? Yes, yes, and yes.

on Internet, with on-demand items on web sites, with the quickly growing role of social media, and with other new possibilities in the digital revolution. The Radio 4 ‘Eigentijds’ program increasingly makes not only an audio recording, but also a video recording, which is placed online. Museum audio tours are a long established practice; we’re now waiting for audio tours through the concert hall. No, that’s not live, but after all, neither were LPs or the kitchen radio, Last

The only thing I’m still waiting for is a new piece by an inventive composer in the form of a computer game. Then adventurous music will finally become an adventure...

FM, YouTube, Soundcloud, Spotify, or iTunes. Yes, Justin Bennett already did something with audio walks, but is he a composer or a sound

Aad van Nieuwkerk

The concertgoer who doesn’t close his eyes the

artist? An astounding example of a viral is the

chief editor VPRO Radio 4

whole evening is not only listening, he/she is

YouTube films with the new opera by Nico Muhly,

also (unconsciously) looking around at the musi-

premiered in London at the end of June.

cians, or at the plaster ornaments all around, or at the irritating person coughing over there

We have to look for an ‘un-performance’ for

During the festival the Dutch broadcasting

on row four. But especially at what’s going on

new social contexts, alternatives in addition

organization VPRO will record a special

onstage. We can’t do otherwise. It’s always been

to traditional concerts. The flash mob by MCO

festival program. The concert recordings

a challenge to take into account the inability of

at Dam Square in Amsterdam last May, a protest

will be made in close co-operation with

humans to only listen (and not to look). Compos-

against cutbacks, would also have been possible

the Concertzender, VPRO Radio 4 and the web

ers, musicians, concert programmers, producers

without that calamitous reason. Satie’s ‘Vexa-

radio station Radio 4 Eigentijds. There will be

of radio programs, everyone wrestles in vain

tions’ were performed as a relay for pianists in

online broadcasts through a livestream at

with the same questions.

a gallery on the other side of the street during and on September

November Music 2010. The Amsterdam pianist

15th there will be a broadcast featuring all the

You can imagine new presentation forms as to

Lucanet doesn’t perform onstage, but combines

highlights from the Muziekweek at Radio 4.

locations, mediums, social context, and prepara-

her music with short, playful films on YouTube.

6 — gaudeamus muziekweek 2011 — english

Wave Field Synthesis-systeem, The Game Of Life

photo: Kuijpers

From the very beginning, electronic music stands out by its source and the ways in which the sound is treated. Tape music, musique concrète, instruments with tape, or instru­ ments with electronic sound manipulation: a whole variety of forms and types have created a continually expanding electronic universe.

photo: Herre Vermeer

photo: René Mesman

From MIDI to four-dimensional sound

Muziekweek 2.0

Martijn Buser

Program and production Gaudeamus Muziekweek

That the Gaudeamus Muziekweek moved to Utrecht affords us with the opportunity to create a new identity for the festival. But the question is: how to adjust a festival format without damaging its contents too much. This was our challenge when we started to try to reinvent the festival in Utrecht as of this past January. We wanted to use the center of Utrecht to our advantage because it offers so many excellent stages, churches, and other places, and everything is within walking distance. This fact challenged me to think about a number

Muziekhuis Utrecht

With computers, MIDI, and a rich arsenal

environment. The pieces she plays by Marko

of new methods and techniques in today’s

Ciciliani and Yannis Kyriakides are written

manipulation of sound, it seems as if there

for violin, live electronics, video and light/

are infinite possibilities in the electronic

laser. Here music and imagery engage in a

music field.

dialog proceeding from different languages: a search for how light and sound affect each

A major challenge for both composers and musicians is the use of electronic sound manipulation in live situations; we will hear examples of this during the Muziekweek. The Disklavier – the digital descendent of

other and which energies that releases.

Barbara Lüneburg

‘When I’m writing,

‘Does music write

sometimes it gets to


that place where I feel

Anna Korsun

like the piece is writing itself and I’m trying not

‘And when this

to get in the way.’

happens, one had

John Zorn

better not get in the way – it would be like

‘I can totally vouch for

stopping a runaway

this, the not getting in

locomotive. If there’s

the way is the difficult

an accident, clean up


later, and go on.’

Yannis Kyriakides

Trevor Grahl

concerts at one location with a single program centered on one ensemble, but an evening full of diverse performers, composers, and locations. Our aim is to make the concerts exciting, with challenging programs that continually surprise the public. In addition, we’ve done up the locations specifically for the Muziekweek; you really have to feel that you’re at a Muziekweek

As will become apparent in this concert by Barbara Lüneburg, composers of electronic music are not only searching for new sounds, they also want to realize new listening experiences.

the pianola – plays the main role in ‘Diskla-

Sarah Nicolls

of shorter programs in a single evening. Not

concert. As an extra attraction, we’ve placed remarkable sound installations at the concert locations, to make your evening complete before, during, and after the concerts. Another challenge was to make the composer more visible. Ultimately, the composer has the

vier Plus’, two concerts for this instrument in

At the Muziekhuis Utrecht (the office of the

main responsibility for what we hear, but usually

combination with live electronics and other

Gaudeamus Muziekweek), you will find a

he/she is anonymously present in the audience.

instruments. The Conlon Foundation stimu-

set-up of the trail-blazing sound system

During the concerts we want to bring the com­

lates composers to write for the Disklavier,

called Wave Field Synthesis. This advanced

posers closer to the audiences and ‘give them

and today we will hear commissioned works

speaker system was developed because of

the microphone’ so that they can explain what

by Wouter Snoei, Chad Langford, Gert-Jan

the desire to expand the possibilities of the

inspired them. I can’t reveal yet in what format

Prins, and Hugo Morales. The piece by Morales

spatial representation of electronic music.

this will be, but on the web site of the Muziek­

will be performed by the English pianist Sarah

The 192 speakers in this system suggest the

week you can meet a number of the nominated

Nicolls. The second concert presents the ver-

movement of sound and aim at a realistic

composers through their personal short videos,

satile singer and performer Stephanie Pan in

reconstruction of the natural behavior

allowing you to become acquainted with them

a new work by Danny de Graan. The program

of sound. At the lunch concert on Friday,

in a fun and easily accessible way.

also presents new works by Daniel Schorno,

September 9th, pieces by the young

Robert van Heumen and the winner of the

composers Ji Youn Kang and Yota Morimoto

International Conlon Music Prize for Diskla-

may be heard at the Muziekhuis Utrecht,

vier Plus 2011.

produced by this sound system.

Barbara Lüneburg, an expert in combining the violin with live electronics, will perform new pieces by Arturo Fuentes, Lou Mallozzi, Henry Vega, and John Croft within the inspiring architectural setting of the Van Schijndelhuis.

Barbara Lüneburg

Wave Field Synthesis

She will also perform ‘Chameleon Chant’ by

Wed 7 September,

Fri 9 September,

Malle Maltis, a piece that turned out to be

12:30 and 22:45 hours

12:30 hours

the winner of the third edition of the ECPNM

Van Schijndelhuis

Muziekhuis Utrecht

European Competition for Live Electronic Music Projects.

Disklavier Plus Thu 8 September,

In her other performance at the Muziekweek,

12:30 and 17:00 hours

Barbara Lüneburg embarks into a multi-media

Speelklok Museum

We hope that we’ve been successful in reinventing ourselves and that as a festival visitor you will enjoy this first renewed festival edition in Utrecht.

english — gaudeamus muziekweek 2011 — 7

Gaudeamus Muziekweek as a platform foR tHE international talent Dmitri Kourliandski, after winning the Gaudeamus Prize 2003*

‘And then?... Then one more journey. Other days, other lands, different people… and so forever. I’m ready to leave for other distances again because you made me stronger. Thank you for all.’

The Gaudeamus Muziekweek does more than only offering the public good insight into how diverse music can be by the young composers who visit the festival from all over the world. For these composers, the Muziekweek is the place to meet each other and to discuss how divergent backgrounds and sources of inspiration can be, how different their training and local musical environ­ ments, or how the world looks from their workplace, and how divergent ambitions and future plans can be. The composers learn from the performances of their own works and from working with musicians and ensembles during the festival. And from the performances of colleagues’ work, they also learn how they can move ahead. But this opportunity has to be given to them.

For the first time the Gaudeamus Muziekweek is being held in Utrecht. How music-minded is Utrecht? We asked three directors of Utrecht art institu­ tions about the musical experience that impressed them the most: Vera Carasso of the Museum Speelklok, Nanette Ris of Muziekcentrum Vredenburg and Lucia Claus of the Utrecht Stadsschouwburg. photo: Jesse Nortier

‘From that moment on it really took off; commissions poured in from all over Europe.’

Utrecht and Music

Lucia Claus

Valerio Murat, winner Gaudeamus Prize 2002

Stadsschouwburg Utrecht ‘This question reminds me of the question, ‘Which child do I love the most?’ I love my two

The Gaudeamus Prize is not a prize that forms the culmination of a certain route. Rather it is a prize that, because it is coupled to a composition commission, forms a concrete step in a young composer’s development and career. With this prize composers really make progress (see the quotations above). Their development can be even more fruitful if this commission acquires a broader perspective. That is why the Gaudeamus Muziekweek is working with European and world organizations and networks similarly active in the development of talented composers. Thus talented compos­ ers selected by Gaudeamus can gain even more experience, while in turn the Gaudeamus Muziekweek gladly welcomes those composers selected by fellow organizations. In order to give a fresh stimulus to young compositional talent, the new network ‘Ulysses’ was recently formed for organizations such as IRCAM (Paris), Internationales Musik­ institut Darmstadt, Impuls (Graz), and Voix Nouvelles (Royau­ mont). With ‘Ulysses’, special talents, such as the winner of the Gaudeamus Prize, are offered the opportunity of partici­ pating in diverse workshops and of working with musicians or other art disciplines in various surroundings. Commissions for new compositions will be shared by member organizations and the resulting work will subsequently be performed more often at various new music festivals. The artistic directors of these organizations meet in Utrecht to make future concrete plans and to experience firsthand the unique projects at the Muziekweek. New developments by the Wave Field Synthesis, Paul Oomen’s 4D Sound, or the disklavier project are in turn interesting for these organizations. Thus the Gaudeamus Muziekweek is the starting point for all sorts of international co-productions, exchanges and other types of cooperation.

The idea of an ‘Orchestra of the 21st Century’ was launched during the Gaudeamus Muziekweek a few years ago, a new concept combining the symphonic dimension with new technologies, voice, and electronic music instruments; the strength of an orchestra with the flexibility of an ensemble. This special orchestra, baptized as ECO, the European Contemporary Orchestra, is comprised of de ereprijs orches­ tra (NL), Musiques Nouvelles (Mons, BE), and Ensemble Télémaque (Marseille, FR), in cooperation with Gaudeamus Muziekweek. In 2013 the orchestra will travel through Europe with new works that composers will write in close collabora­ tion with each other. During the Gaudeamus Muziekweek some of the musicians from the ensembles that participate in the orchestra will work together in three small groups in three short concerts on Saturday, September 10th. Dutch composers including Ezequiel Menalled and Christiaan Richter wrote new works for these short concerts, which audiences in France and Belgium will have the opportunity to enjoy later this year. Since its founding, Gaudeamus has formed the heart of the ECPNM (European Conference of Promoters of New Music), a network of about seventy festivals and organizations. Each year the ECPNM organizes the European Competition for Live Electronic Music Projects, with the finalists of this competition subsequently touring along the festivals. During the Gaudeamus Muziekweek, Barbara Lüneburg will perform the winning works of this competition for violin, electric violin, live electronics, and video in the inspiring architecture of the Van Schijndelhuis. In short, Gaudeamus never misses the opportunity of offering young composers a chance to continue developing themselves and today’s music, and to continue to excite audiences.

children inexpressibly and equally, and hope never to have to choose between them. I have many memories of worthwhile moments in which music predominated. Although I may wake up tomorrow morning with another, seemingly even more beloved memory, I’ll still choose ‘Diep in het bos’, a performance directed by Eric de Volder, with music by Dirk van der Harst. To my surprise, in a sloppy stack of CDs I find a live recording of three songs of this performance, recorded in 1999. I listen and think that this won’t convince anyone because the context of the piece is missing. Rarely was rational thinking (thinking about Dutroux’s deeds) so tied to emotions by amazing, unruly music. That music still sounds unruly. It was immeasurably beautiful at the time: seven women, seven voices, a barren stage floor, and no borders for the audacious imagination.’

‘The present-day

‘The present-day

composer refuses to die.’

composer refuses to

Edgar Varèse

have children, if only he is not head of an

‘A new composer is

insurance company :)…’

born every minute…’

Anna Korsun

Yannis Kyriakides

‘Unless the present-day Dutch government kills him or her.’ Trevor Grahl

ECO Small Forms Sat 10 September, 12:30 hours Various locations, in co-production

with Open Monumentendag

* ‘La musique objective’, ed.2E2M, p.11.

Van Schijndelhuis

Barbara Lüneburg Wed 7 September, 12:30 hours

8 — gaudeamus muziekweek 2011 — english

Beyond the notes photo: Ben van Duin

A conversation with Michel van der Aa and Rozalie Hirs

A conversation with composer Michel van der Aa and Rozalie Hirs, chairperson of this year’s jury for the Gaudeamus Prize, on the importance of this prize for composers.

‘When we separate music from life we get art.’ John Cage

‘Death is the only thing

In 1999, early in his career, Michel van der Aa participated in the Gaudeamus competition with a conceptual piece, ‘Between’ for four percussion­ ists and electronics. ‘I was very happy that my piece was selected, that it was played at the festival, and at such a high level of performance. Before my concert music had been performed in the Netherlands, but that was mostly my music for dance performances. After winning the Gaudeamus Prize, my career really took off.’

that can separate life from music.’ Yannis Kyriakides

‘If we add art to life, life becomes better, living becomes more cheerful!’ Anna Korsun

‘But in order for this miraculous transformation to occur, we must first learn to listen.’ Trevor Grahl

Michel van der Aa

sort of lucky feeling, we became very enthusiastic and happy. Such a discovery is inspiring.’

‘The Gaudeamus Prize is an important podium for composers of the youngest generation in

Winning the competition meant a lot to Michel:

the Netherlands and abroad, and I thought it

‘The prize was a firm push for me. Concretely, it

was wonderful that my piece was performed.

was through Gaudeamus that director Armin

At the time it never crossed my mind that I could

Köhler of the Donaueschinger Musiktage noticed

win the competition. There were so many good

me. And subsequently, someone from the

pieces that year. I was just sitting there in the

publisher Boosey & Hawkes was in the concert

hall with a T-shirt on and was totally surprised.

hall at his festival.’ Rozalie: ‘Someone can always

I didn’t feel the competitive element in the least.’

be sitting in the hall who is moved by a piece and

Rozalie Hirs: ‘That competitive element isn’t the

wants to do something with it, if it’s the winner or

most important aspect of the prize. Actually,

not. But I do think that it’s a very significant step

the Muziekweek is about something else: you

in the career of all the winners.’

become inspired, and you meet colleagues and listen to their work. The international character

According to Michel, winning the prize did not

of this prize is remarkable, and friendships are

influence his composing: ‘No, I had always been

born that often last for the rest of your life. The

very ambitious, not to become a famous com-

value of the Gaudeamus Muziekweek as an inter-

photo: Co Broerse

tic idea? When a piece really stood out, we got a

photo: Richard Ayres

How did you experience partici­pating in and winning the Gaudeamus Prize?

the jury at work

Rozalie Hirs

Works by Michel van der Aa and Rozalie Hirs will

poser, but to continually reinvent myself,

In light of current developments, should we fear the end of auto­ nomously composed music?

national meeting place for composers cannot be

to develop further. But it was an important

Rozalie: ‘No, what’s unique about music is that

The Night of the Unexpected


feather in my cap. Since then my composing has

it has something untouchable that can move

Thu 8 September, 20:30 hours

evolved, although I still don’t understand why I

you. And that is true for autonomous music as

Tivoli Oudegracht

Which criteria played a role in the works selected by the jury?

made ‘Between’ back then.’ Rozalie: ‘The most

well as for film music, for example. I believe quite

important thing for a composer is that he or she

strongly in the blurring of genres and musical

Rozalie: ‘I think that all the pieces that we chose

continues composing. That he or she continues

styles, and in the integration of different media,

(unanimously, that was a prerequisite) are really

to develop regardless of winning a prize or not.’

including music, in single works. I think that composers and listeners move ever more freely

good. That totaled to only some twenty of the

between different genres and media.’ Michel:

of the three jury members thought were good

Do you think that without having won the Gaudeamus Prize you would be where you are now?

led to the most interesting discussions. It was

Michel: ‘It’s impossible for me to answer that.

important that composers continue to broaden

then that you talked about music, about crafts-

Being performed at the Donaueschinger

their viewpoint, that is, if they have a penchant

manship, about what you think is important. In

Musiktage was crucial. Maybe it would have

towards this. Composers are increasingly work-

general, it’s important that the pieces are clearly

taken longer, maybe not. I am now in the luxuri-

ing with imagery, they’re thinking more about

notated and have something individual to say.

ous position that Boosey & Hawkes is active for

stage presentation. People are going beyond the

You look for something that says something

me. It’s exactly that – having prospects – that

notes. The role of self-sufficient music is certainly

about the maker or about the world. How far

has become so difficult for composers now.’

changing, but I don’t believe that the combina-

four hundred submissions. From these we chose our favorites. Actually, the pieces that only two

does someone dare to go in translating his artis-

‘There will always be composers, including myself, who will write concert music. But it’s

tion of music and multimedia is the only answer.’

be performed at The Night of the Unexpected.

english — gaudeamus muziekweek 2011 — 9 photo: Paul & Menno de Nooijer

The Night of the Unexpected

photo: Pieter Kers

Knalpot, 2010 photo: Maarten Mooijman

Erik Bosgraaf

which cross and inseminate each other. Mapping

What can you tell us about the program of this year’s Night of the Unexpected?

the whole musical field without the artificial

‘The program is still not final, but I can tell you

categories in which some people think, that is

a few things. Pianist Sarah Nicolls will perform

what I wanted! That’s how I disassociate myself

‘Transit’ by Michel van der Aa, and Erik Bosgraaf,

from the focus on the Western, academic culture

a recorder player, will venture into Van der Aa’s

of composed music.’

work, side by side with music by the 17th-century

porary music has an enormous palette with colors and styles that develop without borders, Lean Left

The Night of the Unexpected is the title of a special part of the Gaudeamus Muziekweek. In a single evening the audience embarks on an uninterrupted journey along musical borders, subsonic abysses, and endless soundscapes. All performers play only briefly and are followed without interruption by yet another horizon in the unbounded musical spectrum of The Night of the Unexpected. I meet Roland Spekle, the program director of this evening, while he stops off at Utrecht Central Station. His enthusiasm for music and for his brainchild translates into a contagious and informative verbal waterfall com­ parable to the dynamics of The Night of the Unexpected itself. That the formula of The Night of the Unexpected is suc­ cessful, is proven by interest in other countries; there are currently contacts with Hannover, Berlin, Moscow, London and Istanbul about organizing The Night of the Unexpected there. For Roland Spekle this is an excellent opportunity to realize his goal: exchange and dialogue throughout the entire field of contem­ porary music.

You’ve been organizing The Night of the Unexpected for a number of years now. What was the starting point of this initiative?

Jacob van Eyck from Utrecht. Slagwerk Den Haag

to pop music were hauled into the Gaudeamus

You could say that the Night offers a borderless perspective on contemporary music. It might offer composed, improvised, pop, ethnic, DJs or black metal. We can run into everything at the Night. What does the Night try to achieve with this diversity?

Muziekweek. From the start I wanted to create

‘There are two rules in the concept of this pro-

an evening really different from the regular con-

gram. The first is that artists may not perform

cert format and this is the result.’

longer than 15 minutes. This allows for the

‘The Night of the Unexpected already existed before I joined in 2003. The Night was developed at Gaudeamus because they wanted to organize an evening where the ragged edges of contemporary music could be included. That’s how electronics, sound art, and even styles related

performs in a set-up around the audience and we will hear and see a piece from ‘Jane’, an absurd and successful combination of film and live music by Jorrit Tamminga, a composer from Utrecht. From a very different corner we’ll hear ‘Hi energy improvisation’ by Lean Left with two guitarists from the Ex, saxophonist Ken Vandermark, and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love.’

How did you get the idea of organizing a concert that combines so many different musicians and styles in a single program?

whole program to be demonstrated. The audi-

How do you view the relationship between the program at the Night and the rest of the program at the Gaudeamus Muziekweek?

ence stays captivated; the momentum of the

‘That relationship is very clear. Ensembles

program holds everyone’s attention. The second

specialized in contemporary composed music or

rule is that artists may not present themselves

pieces nominated by the jury of the Gaudeamus

on a stage. The traditional 19th-century division

Prize fit into the concept. At the same time we

‘A concept like this offers the opportunity of

between musicians and audience is dissolved.

add other accents to demonstrate the develop-

bringing together many different groups and

I want to challenge that worn habit offering audi-

ments in new music to its full extent.’

artists into a single, compact program. I got the

ences a comfort zone. During The Night of the

idea for the concept when I read David Toop’s

Unexpected you can’t sit and doze in your chair,

book An Ocean of Sound. David Toop describes

you have to stay with it. I wanted to arrange the

the shock that Claude Debussy felt when he

program so that a pop music fan also wants to

The Night of the Unexpected

visited the World Exposition in Paris in 1889 and

listen to and could appreciate ‘Lux Aeterna’ by

Thu 8 September, 20:30 hours

heard the sounds of the Javanese gamelan for the

Ligeti, for example.’

Tivoli Oudegracht

first time. Debussy was amazed by the funda-

Last year at The Night of the Unexpected in

mentally different music he heard there. From

Paradiso the interviewer experienced for himself

that moment on he began to look for musical

that the dynamics work. After listening to newly

sounds unfettered by conventions and beyond

composed music for gamelan for some time,

the academic rules of harmony, melody, and

the hushed atmosphere was completely

rhythm. It made me realize that music is timeless

smashed to smithereens by the Norwegian

and in all corners of the world. All the barriers

metal band Killl. A greater contrast was hardly

you raise are arbitrary. With this thought in

conceivable, but audience concentration was

mind, I wanted to make a statement: contem-

optimal for both acts.

breadth, diversity, and the dynamics of the

10 — gaudeamus muziekweek 2011 — english

Between Image and Sound Rob van Rijswijk / Jeroen Strijbos, Whispers

Hans van Koolwijk, Kniktiks

In addition to the concert program, Gaudeamus Muziek­ week also presents new music incorporated in figurative installations. At various locations in the city, the public can view, experience, or operate beautifully formed sound installations.

Sound installation route Museum Speelklok Dyane Donck / Jake de Vos, N2O; Multiversum I + II Dyane Donck / Evelien van den Broek, Yesterday; Circular Music Karlheinz Stockhausen, Music boxes from the Zodiac Rob van Rijswijk / Jeroen Strijbos, Dadoc Joost van Balkom, Humming Birds Theater Kikker

Arno Fabre, Dropper 01

The development of sound installations into a mature art discipline stems from two different lines of approach. First of all, composers have the need to develop ‘machines’ that engage in a certain musical interaction with their surroundings or with the beholder. A tendency by visual artists who also want to incorporate sound or music in their art is another development that contributed to this new art form. A leading pioneer in this area was the Korean artist Nam June Paik, who operated at the border of both disciplines and who created a lot of commotion in the fifties and sixties with his sound installations and performances inspired by the Fluxus movement. Since then, this art form has developed into a flourishing independent art form in which Dutch artists such as Edwin van der Heide and the duo Rob van Rijswijk and Jeroen Strijbos have gained quite some international publicity. Located at the Museum Speelklok are installations by duo pairs Rob van Rijswijk and Jeroen Strijbos, Dyane Donck and Jake de Vos, and Dyane Donck and Evelien van den Broek, among others. The ‘road trip’ Like Harry starts at the festival hub, where you can experience the center of Utrecht in a special way, armed with headphones. (For more information, see the article on the festival hub.)

Carillonist Joost van Balkom presents his ‘Humming Birds’: driven by a computer, small mechanical things that look like small birds tick extremely quickly and softly on the bells of a moving carillon. The result is that the familiar sound of bells being struck changes into the sound of bells being bowed, a totally different sound experience. The pieces that Van Balkom specifically composed for this new instrument make thankful use of the enormous expansion in the performance possibilities of the traditional carillon. ‘Kniktiks’ by Hans van Koolwijk is at De Neude. Just as with Arno Fabre’s work, ‘Kniktiks’ forms a dialog with a natural phenomenon. ‘Kniktiks’ are manipulated flagpoles placed in a circle and moved by the wind. Tubular bells are connected to these flagpoles, which ring out when the flags move. When you stand in the middle of the circle, you can hear this bell music driven by the wind. Another installation or sound system should also be men­ tioned. The revolutionary sound system, Wave Field Synthesis a unique system with 192 speakers, reconstructs the natural behavior of sound, and has been set up in Muziekhuis Utrecht, the office of the Gaudeamus Muziekweek.

Arno Fabre, Dropper 01 De Neude Hans van Koolwijk, Kniktiks Muziekhuis Utrecht The Game of Life, Wave Field Synthesis

Sound installation route Wed 7, Sat 10 and Sun 11 September, from 12:00 hours Various locations Like Harry Wed 7, Sat 10 en Sun 11 September, from 11:00 hours, Museum Speelklok departure between 11:00 and 12:00, 13:30 and 14:30, 16:00 and 17:00 hours (except Sunday) Wave Field Synthesis Fri 9 September, 12:30 hours Muziekhuis Utrecht

In Vredenburg Leeuwenbergh you can see and hear a new work by Tao G. Vrhovec Sambolec, born in Slovenia, which he made specifically for this location. Sambolec’s installations are often enlargements of a specific natural phenomenon or engage in a dialog with the work’s surroundings. At this same location, in the room next to the concert hall, you can see and hear the ceramic sound sculpture ‘Whispers’ by Rob van Rijswijk and Jeroen Strijbos, with text fragments and speech forming the basis of a fascinating aural search. The beautiful installation ‘Dropper 01’ by the French artist Arno Fabre is located in the small hall of Theater Kikker. He was inspired by water leaking through a roof: eight percussive instruments are set up in a circle under a network of cables and pipes. A computer program controls the water drops that fall from the pipes onto the instruments. Four surrounding speakers amplify the sounds and together they create a com­ position that sounds somewhat like an Indonesian gamelan.

‘Everyone is born

‘Good! Fewer composers

with genius, but most

– less competition!’

people only keep it

Anna Korsun

a few minutes.’ Edgar Varèse

‘...and to reclaim it, we must learn to listen,

‘Genius is a stupid

and to unlearn.’


Trevor Grahl

Yannis Kyriakides

english — gaudeamus muziekweek 2011 — 11

biking for inspiration

Where does musical inspiration come from? What prompts a composer to decide to sit down at the piano, at a computer, or at an empty piece of paper and start? Three composers on inspiration and (autonomous) musical thinking.

Wilbert Bulsink cycled via Scandinavia to

confront you with the results of the way mankind

received and accepted by a small group or even

Istanbul. In five months he biked through fifteen

deals with the earth.’

an individual. When each of us receives music,

Utrecht and Music For the first time the Gaudeamus Muziekweek is being held in Utrecht. How music-minded is Utrecht? We asked three directors of Utrecht art institu­ tions about the musical experience that impressed them the most: Vera Carasso of the Museum Speelklok, Nanette Ris of Muziekcentrum Vredenburg and Lucia Claus of the Utrecht Stadsschouwburg.

we situate it within a constellation of our prior

countries, covering some 9,000 kilometers. ‘I planned to make short recordings along the

If you compose music based on such a concrete

experiences. I don’t see a way that this can be

way, but not with the purpose of making a piece.

source of inspiration, can we still regard it as

avoided – or could ever have been truly avoided at

It seemed to me to be conceptually interesting to

autonomous musical thinking?

any point in the history of music, for that matter.

record 15 seconds each day and to string all these

‘Music is a language and I’ve developed my own

Furthermore, much of the interest in music can

samples together as an impression of my trip.

language. I think in that language, and it has its

be found in the interplay of genres or influences,

By now this has evolved into an entirely different

own logic that is perfectly clear to me. The music

and the layered conceptions of lineage and cul-

plan for which I’m looking for a form (June 2011).

is born by imagination, that is, an imagination

tural dialogue that this interplay provokes.’

I do have a feeling what it should become: diary

in sounds, which in this case is stimulated by the

fragments, images, stories, and music will all

selected photos. I didn’t want musical scenery for

play a role. I want to make a travelogue in music.’

the photos nor a slideshow as a background to my piece. Images and sound had to be at the same

Do you think that such a personal motivation

level. The power of contemporary music is that

allows for autonomous musical thinking?

it has the possibility of saying something with

‘I try to regard the meaning of the material that

today’s sounds. These sounds belong to our time

I recorded while on the road as separate from its

and therefore have meaning for people of today.’

photo: Arthur Kaye

photo: Geert Glas

Nanette Ris

Muziekcentrum Vredenburg ‘I could name at least 100 musical experiences, but what I’ve always remembered is the first concert by Hoketus. I was in my early twenties and it was around 1976 or 1977. Hoketus, Louis Andriessen’s ensemble played works by Paul Koek and Huib Emmer, among others, at the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague. It was my first confrontation with minimal music, music reduced the basics. The ensemble had a double instrumentation, set up on each side of the hall, which sort of suggested a competition. It was so exciting because that double instrumentation created an echo effect in which small rhythmical shifts acquired an enormous charge. You started noticing the details a lot and you really began to

Wilbert Bulsink & Geert Glas, Götterfunken

Ted Hearne will write a new piece for Ensemble Klang and for ECO Small Forms.

source. I disconnect the recordings from their

The American composer Ted Hearne won the

origins and try to approach them as autono-

Gaudeamus Prize in 2009 with a selection from

mous sounds. In addition, I try to take form

his ‘Katrina Ballads’, inspired by the horrors that

and structure as my point of departure, leaving

the hurricane Katrina caused in New Orleans

both content and inspiration to recede to the

in 2005.

background. Thus, although the content is not

I like to uncover musicians’ resistances and push them to take them on.

perfectly autonomous, the way the piece is con-

What inspired him? ‘I am most inspired by the

ceived is certainly autonomous. I actually don’t

personal influences of individual performers.

have to know where my inspiration comes from.

What is a particular musician’s comfort zone?

Ultimately, my composing has more to do with

What are their ‘default’ gestures? What kind of

abstract meanings than with concrete musical

ideas is he/she not used to exploring in music?

content. For me, autonomous musical thinking

I like to uncover musicians’ resistances and push

and program music form opposites, but I con-

them to take them on. I find that inspiration

sider both to be valid approaches to music, and

often comes from this challenge – creating a

I don’t hesitate to mix them together. A piece can

combination of material that contains particles

be seen as separate from the contextual occasion

that musicians can recognize as of his or her


and from its source of inspiration. Audiences

own DNA as well as particles of foreign material.

Wed 7 September, 21:00 hours

don’t have to have anything to do with that.’

And how far can I go before this challenge turns

Vredenburg Leeuwenbergh

a musician against me or against the project? Together with his band Hexnut, Ned McGowan

Sometimes this philosophy has failed me, but

ECO Small Forms

presents a series of pieces based on photos by

often it has yielded results that have helped me

Sat 10 September, 12:30 hours

Edward Burtynsky. It’s McGowan’s idea and he

grow as a composer.’

Various locations, in coproduction

also composed the music of one of these pieces.

with Open Monumentendag

‘I wanted to make a cycle about the earth’s trans-

Ted doesn’t think music has a universal meaning

formation due to human intervention, based

but also doesn’t believe that music can express

Ensemble Klang

on a number of concepts. These are extrac-

something purely musical all by itself. ‘That

Sun 11 September, 12:30 hours

tion, refinement, construction, consumption,

would be foolish to assert. If ‘musical autonomy’

Vredenburg Leeuwenbergh

destruction, and recycling. These themes may

is the idea that music is not truly capable of

be found in Burtynsky’s work, but I formulated

representing anything beyond itself, I would

Rosa Ensemble

them myself. The photos by Burtynsky are both

strongly disagree. Yet the same piece may be

Sun 11 September, 17:00 hours

fascinating and shocking, beautiful photos that

capable of representing a tangible idea that is

Museum Speelklok

appreciate it. It gave me a new, totally different listening experience. Later I heard it all, Glass and Reich, but this was really very exciting. It would be great if these special happenings were held more often and if we could bring in young audiences, like then. The hall was full then.’

‘I became aware that

‘Think so not only

all sounds can make

on Sirius.’

meaningful language.’

Anna Korsun

Karlheinz Stockhausen

This quotation has been ‘Our mind which is hard

edited. Stockhausen

wired to find meaning

more likely said: ‘I

is tricked into seeing it

became aware that all

as meaningful.’

sounds [that I wrote]

Yannis Kyriakides

can make meaningful language.’ Trevor Grahl

12 — gaudeamus muziekweek 2011 — english

Proportions and fantasy Ulrich Pöhl is artistic director and conductor of

strengthens my interpretation, but in some

the Insomnio ensemble of Utrecht, one of the

instances I alter something.’

leading ensembles in Dutch musical life. During

photo: Rachel Nieborg

Almost by definition, new music forms a challenge to audiences. But first and foremost it’s a challenge to the musicians who see a composition for the first time. How do you fathom the musical language of a piece before you’re familiar with it? A small tour along a pianist and two artistic ensemble directors reveals that the composer is rarely offside in inter­ preting and rehearsing a new piece.

the Muziekweek, Insomnio will perform with

Pete Harden, artistic director of Ensemble Klang,

exclusively new works: four nominated composi-

points out the importance of the context of each

tions, and a piece by Artur Akshelyan, the result

piece. ‘That context is important, especially if

of the honorable mention he received at the

it’s a very abstract piece! With a piece such as

Gaudeamus Muziekweek 2010.

‘Katrina Ballads’ by Ted Hearne you naturally look at what the texts mean. It’s not only the literal

How do you work on a piece that you don’t know?

meaning of the words, but it’s also about the

‘As a conductor, I have the score and I take care

‘social ecology’ of a piece.’ Does that information

that I know it before I start working with the

change the interpretation of a piece?

musicians for the first time. The musicians expect

‘Yes, absolutely!’

that from me. Actually, it hardly ever happens that I don’t understand a piece. What does

Pianist Tomoko Mukaiyama isn’t often surprised

happen is that a piece is so boarded up on paper

by the score of a new piece: ‘Unfortunately, I

that I can hardly imagine the result. That also

haven’t seen anything with new notation or a

says something about the quality of the com­

new language in a long time. I can always com-

position. If you can’t see the music among all

pare it with something that already exists. That

those notes, then there’s no point in going on.

I can’t identify a score at all doesn’t occur often.

I rate good proportions in a composition as very

There’s always a reference to something else.

important, proportions and fantasy. What I also

I’m very familiar with scores as a medium and

find important is if the score includes contact

they generally afford enough information.

between the various players. Naturally and

The advantage of living composers is that you

happily, I’m occasionally surprised during a

can always phone them.

rehearsal. Sometimes something like that

Naturally and happily, I’m occasion­ ally surprised during a rehearsal. Sometimes something like that strengthens my interpretation, but in some instances I alter something. Pete Harden affirms this: ‘Because we work with the six of us and everyone always participates in everything, we are all familiar with a piece at all levels. It always takes a lot of rehearsal time,

Tomoko Mukaiyama

but it’s not often that a piece remains incompre-

photo: Dorota Walentynowicz

hensible.’ What’s the case with the pieces that will be performed by Tomoko Mukaiyama and the Seattle Chamber Players at the Muziekweek? ‘Because I’m quite familiar with the language of the pieces that I will perform during the Muziekweek (‘Satellites’ by Yannis Kyriakides, and ‘Style Wars V – Minimal Madness’ by Michiel Mensingh), I easily get a grip on these pieces. I have known Kyriakides’s music for a long time, some ten years now, and I’ve already played a piece by Mensingh. That’s why I’m quite familiar with their language, which makes my introduction to a new piece easier.’ Ensemble Klang

Increasingly, composers prefer workshop set-

Ulrich Pöhl

ups to try out their first compositional sketches. In turn, they integrate this feedback in their piece in the making. Ulrich Pöhl is positive about this way of working: ‘Then you can really model Insomnio

something on an ensemble, address the specific

Mon 5 September, 20:15 hours

qualities of the musicians and the ensemble.

Vredenburg Leeuwenbergh

That also improves the quality of a composition.’

‘People whose sensibility

‘Russian subway.

is destroyed by music

Noise level 90 dB.

in trains, airports, lifts,

Who is Beethoven?.’

Seattle Chamber Players /

an exchange: ‘Composers sometimes arrive with

cannot concentrate on

Anna Korsun

Tomoko Mukaiyama

only a few measures or only an idea, which we

Sat 10 September, 21:30 hours

then discuss extensively. That makes a lot of

Vredenburg Leeuwenbergh

difference. Many composers are searching for

a Beethoven Quartet.’ Witold Lutoslawski

‘I prefer to take this

Pete Harden confirms the advantages of such

another relationship between their work and

literally: because ‘People who think

of Muzak in public

Ensemble Klang

the musicians who have to play it. And some

that a Beethoven

spaces, our population

Sun 11 September, 12:30 hours

composers gladly allow the performers quite

string quartet is the

can concentrate

Vredenburg Leeuwenbergh

some freedom.’

only sensible musical

on everything else

experience cannot

normally, but just not a

hear music in trains,

Beethoven Quartet.’

airports and lifts.’

Trevor Grahl

Yannis Kyriakides

Gaudeamus Muziekweek festival magazine 2011  

Festival magazine of the Gaudeamus Muziekweek 2011, 4-11 september in Utrecht